Projecting Futures of the Relatively Young & Old: Sekou & Cam Johnson
Updated: Jun 19, 2019
6’9.25”, 231-pounds, unknown wingspan, unknown max vertical, turns 19 in December, ranked 16th by Hamilton:
You may have heard, but basketball is big in France. It’s cool. Cool enough that Paris St. Germain put the Jumpman logo on their shirts for the 2019 season. It became cool in some measure because France has experienced a golden generation within its own basketball culture. They’ve been damn good in FIBA competitions (2013 EuroBasket champions, 2014 World Cup bronze medal) and exported several players to the NBA ranging from decorated, to respectable, to promising. The recently retired Tony Parker will probably be first ballot Hall of Fame. Rudy Gobert is a two-time All-NBA selection. Evan Fournier played 31 minutes per night for a playoff team, and Nicolas Batum has had a really good career. Frank Ntilikina elicits a certain kind of reaction from people but that has as much to do with the Knicks as it does him. He’s still only 20 and could put it together. And that’s not even to mention the indomitable Boris Diaw ... These players and more have set a high bar for French hoops. They’ve given young people in France who love the game something to aspire toward; a reason to behold the incredible talent the NBA has to offer and to model that talent.
Sekou Doumbouya is what comes next for French hoops and I believe we may have underrated him at #18 on our big board. For starters, at 6-9, 230 pounds, he’s just about the perfect size for today’s NBA. A look at some tape and you see his skills on offense are ideal for the league too. He’s long with a bit of that “wiry-strong” looking build a’ la Kevin Durant (but with better shoulders). Also, like KD, he shoots the ball effortlessly. I don’t want to draw KD comparisons here because that wouldn’t be fair to either player (let alone accurate) but there’s a little something to it in very narrow ways.
That smooth easiness of his shot suggests he will have no trouble becoming comfortable and reliable from NBA range. His ballhandling is effective if not good for a player entering the league.
He shows an ability to slow down or hesitate, make a quick one dribble move throwing a defender of balance, then accelerate past his man. Once he gets by, he’s looking to get to the rim where he’s not deterred by contact. That gets to an area of improvement on the offensive end: His pull up jump shot looks a little flawed. He doesn’t get much lift in his legs. He appears a lot more comfortable shooting off a catch or taking it all the way to the rim. On the other hand, layups and threes are (rightly) good shots to be taking. At some point though, when defenses are taking away a player’s strengths, he has to be able to create a shot by putting the ball on the floor.
Watching highlights of games played abroad isn’t always helpful in scouting ability or projecting effectiveness against NBA competition. Some things will jump out, but others may not. For instance, Doumbouya spends a lot of time moving and cutting off the ball. He curls when the ball doesn’t get thrown to him at the top of the key and keeps going all the way down the lane. The way defenses have to react to movement like this frees up so many things. 1-on-0 workouts aren’t much better than European games against weak comp. However, you can get ideas about some of the fine skill level, comfortability with going hard, and a bit of mental capacity. NBA teams have gotten a good look at Doumbouya during the draft process are undoubtedly intrigued. And for good reason. All those skills with a solid work ethic and the connection to so many compatriots set Sekou Doumbouya up well for the NBA.
And did I mention he doesn’t turn 19 until December 23rd? Yeah, we probably underrated him.
6’8.5”, 205-pounds, 6’10” wingspan, 36.5” max vertical, turned 23 in March, ranked 23rd by Fenrich:
I think I’m convinced Cam Johnson is the best shooter and floor spacer in this draft. This past season, he shot 46% on 210 three-point attempts and for his career was at 40% on 639 attempts. He’s been above 80% from the line for all four of his full NCAA seasons. Check out his Synergy shot chart, courtesy of stats.nba.com – from any and everywhere, he rains efficiency down on foes.
That I can’t help but see Justin Jackson in his frame and skin tone is of no matter. It’s as ridiculous as Austin Croshere/Bojan Bogdanovic both playing for the Pacers – same size, same body, same hair. That I’m clueless about the size and definition of his upper body because he wore a chunky shirt under his jersey is of little importance.
Intrigue and oddity are for the birds when you are supreme shooter man: Cam Johnson.
At nearly 6-9 with a 6-10 wingspan, Johnson shoots an easy ball both off the catch and off the bounce. Per stats.nba.com, he was in the 97th percentile in both spot-ups and shooting off the screen.
His range extends to NBA range and, unlike a lot of college kids, his form looks as effortless from 24-feet as it does from 21.
His shooting isn’t limited to the perimeter. He shot 56% on twos and is capable of creating his own looks and making off-balance, through-contact shots. He’s not overly tall or long but has the type of size and length that allows him to get clean looks over most wing defenders and when he doesn’t create space, he doesn’t need much daylight to get the shot off.
Johnson’s per-40 assist numbers improved in each of his three seasons at UNC. Creating for others wasn’t necessarily his role, but in the tape I’ve watched, he’s plenty capable of making the pocket pass off the screen-and-roll though I haven’t seen anything indicating it’s a strength. His overall feel for the game strong and, like his jumper, feels natural and effortless. He’s lean and while not quite explosive, he’s a good athlete and tested well at the combine, including ranking 5th overall in lane agility drills.
How this athleticism translates to the court is of greater importance. I’ve seen him use it well on the offensive on acrobatic finishes around the hoop, but less so defensively. In 135 college games, he had a combined 137 steals and blocks which is a completely underwhelming number. He’s agile and can move laterally, but can get hung up screens. With his feel for the game, I’d expect more defensive awareness and potentially like to see him take a few more risks on that end.
I ranked him 23rd overall, but if I were to re-rank my board, he’d probably move ahead of Rui Hachimura, Luguentz Dort, and potentially Chuma Okeke. That he’s 23 already probably keeps him behind Tyler Herro and Cam Reddish as I believe their present-day ceilings are higher than his. He feels like a low-risk player who can step in and at least space the floor immediately.